Dear Forum Family,

It's amazing that a humble labor of love, a shoestring budget and an insatiable interest in old world arms and armor has led to a phenomenon that has endured for over a decade. I look upon our road travelled with a sense of gratitude and accomplishment. Collectively, as the SFI Family, we have done what many said we could not do. Recent site traffic statistics among registered and unregistered users show that activity is at an all time high. Yes, there were politics and lawsuit threats. One even followed through: we braved through a lawsuit as defendants, and the judge ruled in our favor (furthermore, the plaintiff's lawyer didn't even show up the day both sides were to appear in court. How funny!) However, most importantly, we had a great time providing the international community with a fun and exciting learning experience.

The road ahead will be one of growth and development for SFI. Several years back, it became evident that additional help was needed from both the academic side as well as the information technology side.

My role as President/Editor-in-Chief originally began by building one-on-one relationships with sword makers. SFI's growth has traditionally outpaced our ability to find the right technologies to scale our desired experience, which mean a lot of manual labor, creating a bottleneck that took my focus away from actually developing the SFI experience. Dennis Boas was instrumental in streamlining forum administration and heading the Moderator team for me. However, because we are both veterans of start-up companies in the IT space, we became buried under the demands of our day jobs (which, I suppose, is a good thing, especially in this economic climate!)

Earlier this year, Mark McMorrow (VP and Executive Editor) discussed how to resolve this. SFI should really be content driven, and there are web technologies today that weren't around a few years ago. Mark had also been cultivating resources and a research society here on SFI, surpassing the work I had done myself. He also introduced me to his close friend, Ed Royce, who has a great deal of expertise in server administration and web technologies.

We are very fortunate to have new talent and experience join the SFI Team to help us advance the study of swords, armor and swordsmanship. I'm pleased to make the following appointments:

  • Ed Royce - SFI Technical Director, Site Development. Ed's efforts were most instrumental in the recent server migration, forum software upgrades and the like (all those behind-the-scenes operations that most may be oblivious to but that make the forums operate smoothly). Ed's technical expertise has been nothing short of phenomenal, and he is incredibly forward-thinking. With him on the team, I'm no longer the one slowing SFI down! To be quite honest, a lot of these software technologies are hard for me to figure out, but are second nature to Ed!

  • Andre Ducote, SFI Attorney General. A long-time member of SFI with a passion towards historical arms, Andre Ducote strengthens our legal arm, working directly with Mark McMorrow. We are honored to have an individual of such caliber and experience as an attorney general to SFI. (Sorry, no free legal advice. If you badmouth someone without cause or documentation, you'll have to find your own attorney. Andre is ours!)

It has taken us eleven years to reach this point. SFI is a product of vision, supported in turn by technology and good people. We believe server-side software has matured to help us move forward. In synergy with Ed Royce, Mark has an effective team that can plan and develop content and have that facilitated on the SFI server. It has been a while but I finally feel we have the right people and computer-related resources in place to grow according to the SFI vision - which then leads us to the topic of solid leadership for SFI moving towards that vision.

Many of you have known Mark McMorrow who has been with us since the beginning. He has been VP of the Antique & Military Swords arm of SFI. Mark epitomizes the values and vision of our educational efforts, and has built relationships in the A&MS world. SFI's resources are developed through outreach to museums and the historical arms and arm community worldwide, rather than as a result of merely building a web site. I've discussed with Mark that in our next phase of growth, a person who is people-facing should be the one who not only represents but leads SFI (rather than technology-facing as I have been).

In this regard, Mark has accepted his appointment to President/Editor-in-Chief of SFI, and I could not be more proud for SFI to have such a fine individual at the helm. I will continue behind-the-scenes to provide Mark, Ed and team with advice, strategy and visionary support. I am confident that I have given SFI the best possible leadership team for the horizons ahead.

Two things that have characterized the SFI experience is "warm and friendly" and "swords are fun". As simple as they sound, they are landmark qualities that have distinguished SFI as an enjoyable educational endeavor. I am enthusiastic about SFI's future, and hope you will continue to enjoy the SFI experience!